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Dying Light

R18: contains graphic violence and offensive language

Spoiler alert

This page outlines how the classification criteria were applied. We do our best to discuss the content while avoiding spoilers, but please avoid reading this information if you do not want to learn anything about the content of this game.

Dying Light poster

Date registered: 05/11/2014

About the game

Dying Light is a Polish console game formatted for play on the Playstation4 console. The game is a first-person survival horror set during a zombie apocalypse.

The player character is a man named Crane, who parachutes into a dilapidated city. While performing missions, such as rescuing other survivors around the city, setting traps to attack a rival gang, and accessing supplies of food and Antizen (a temporary vaccine for the zombie virus), Crane increases his parkour (free-running) abilities and begins to acquire a variety of lethal weapons. The parkour is especially useful for exploring all parts of the city and evading zombies.

Gameplay - Crane shooting one zombie, while defending himself with a sword against another

Classification criteria: Horror, cruelty and violence

The zombies are well-rendered, with limbs missing, holes in them and organs visible. Many of the game levels are dimly lit and often littered with human corpses, body parts and vast quantities of blood. Horror elements are enhanced by the atmospheric score and sound effects.

The game depicts the infliction of serious physical harm to a high extent and degree. Acts of significant cruelty are also present, though balanced to some degree by virtue of the fact that Crane mostly kills only zombies. The weapons have differing abilities to inflict damage but generally result in large splashes of blood coming off the zombies. The rebar provides one of the more visually arresting attacks, as it can instantaneously crush a zombie's head with a single blow - sometimes the head crushing is depicted in slow-motion, heightening the impact. In addition to regular opportunities for violence in the game play, there is strong violence in some of the cinematic cut-scenes.

While the violence in the game is over-the-top it is also balanced by the unrealistic setting, and the inability of the player to kill "good" characters. The player can also often choose not to engage the zombies in combat, instead using Crane's ability in parkour to move around them safely.

Gameplay - shooting a zombie

Classification criteria: Highly offensive language

The game contains language that would be highly offensive to the public in general and likely to cause serious harms such as alienation or intimidation if emulated by impressionable young players or viewers.

Gameplay - zombies attacking in the forest

Classification criteria: Dominant effect of the publication as a whole

The dominant effect of the publication as a whole is of a bloody and over-the-top survival horror zombie game. The open-world nature of the gaming environment, its completeness as a changing, living cityscape, and Crane's ability with parkour make the gameplay relatively unique and an overall immersive experience.

Gameplay - running through the streets of the city

Decision summary

The unrestricted availability of the game Dying Light would be injurious to the public good primarily because of the manner in which it deals with matters of horror, cruelty and violence. The game's depictions of the infliction of serious physical harm are gory, gratuitous and involve elements of cruelty. These images would be disturbing to children or younger persons, and may have the effect of trivialising violence through presenting this behaviour as entertaining and exciting.

Exposure to the game's killings of zombies, which display some human physical characteristics, has the potential in children and young persons to create desensitisation towards violent behaviour in real life. Adults are more able to put this kind of material in the context of an entertaining but violent survival horror console game. The use of highly offensive language supports the need for an age restriction.

Likelihood of injury to the public good is reduced by restricting this publication to audiences who have attained the age of 18 years. This classification interferes with the freedom of expression contained in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 but is consistent with s3 of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act to limit the availability of publications likely to be injurious to the public good.

Contact the Information Unit if you require further information on a classification decision.

R18 label
R18: contains graphic violence and offensive language